Friday, January 29, 2016

One of the Zs...

I had front row seats at the Performing Arts Center when I first saw ZZ Top in concert in 2008.

Took some amazing close-up photos of the two bearded guys.

Guitarist Billy Gibbons is the one with the reddish long beard.
Dusty Hill plays bass and the drummer, who has no facial hair, is named Frank Beard.

The three had been together more than 40 years and, today, still are. Billy wanted to experiment  with a tour that included a stop in Havana, Cuba.

Wednesday night at the Charleston Music Hall (CMH) I enjoyed the solo tour by Billy Gibbons and the BFG's.

I wished he had taken off his hat so I could see his face that was in shadow.

Bob Dylan did something similar with his hat so guess I'll just have to get used to it.

Two - not just one - ladies on drums. Nice.
Different percussion sounds from each.

Piano on one side of the stage and an organ on the other.

A large tilted mirror was positioned behind and above each player.

This gave us an excellent view of their hands as they ran up and down the multiple keyboards.

Had seen a similar mirror set-up like this at Pat O'brien's dueling pianos in New Orleans many years ago.

This touch adds a nice element to the entertainment.

Billy was scheduled to play in Charleston back in November but had to postpone it due to illness.

Had a lot of fun "enhancing" this shot of the opening band Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown.

They opened right on time and I think all the sound levels were cranked up to 11 or 12!

No problem. I always/usually have my professional earplugs with me.

And, this time, there was no NYC cabaret singer comic  trying to climb onto my lab.

I think she realized I had a good sense of humor.

When she invited a much younger man to join her onstage for the finale, my buddy said she had told me I didn't have enough bone mass.

At my age, my strong point seems to be sitting comfortably in a plush seat, enjoying music being created and giving strong applause.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

I hope you get out and support live music. That helps convince performers to come to Charleston. Yay!

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Two VERY interestings evenings...

 Went to see St. Paul and the Broken Bones at the CMH* Thursday night.

It was my third time enjoying the "Man from Alabama" in an array of settings.

About two years ago, I saw him for the first time EVER at the cozy Pour House in West Ashley.

He closed the Spoleto Festival last year and I would have been there for sure, but I was out of town.

Next time - June of last year - was when he opened for the Rolling Stones in Atlanta.

He's been really traveling but at the CMH, (*Charleston Music Hall) Thursday night,  I got a close look at  the sparkly shoes he has filled!

The opener was Banditos, also from Alabama, and Mary Beth Richardson was the torrid vocalist.

It was a joyful evening of music in one of my favorite music venues.

When (St.) Paul Janeway hopped down from the stage to dance and sing bogeying up and down the center aisle, I switched my camera to capture a great video.

Glad I did but now I have to figure how to edit and  post it!

Friday night, a second "Night to Remember," had me seated in the 7th row, on the aisle, at the downtown Sottile Theater.

It was the middle night of Theater 99's Comedy Festival weekend and Bridget Everett was the headliner.

I knew only that she was a stand-up comic/NYC cabaret singer and I was wise enough to avoid sitting up close in the first several rows.

In the past, I have been briefly singled out by a comic and wanted to avoid that happening again.

I felt pretty hidden  among the 400+ comedy fans in the theater.

It was quickly obvious that the word bawdy was invented especially for Bridget.

Uh oh, as she headed for the steps to come down off the stage, I recalled that "cabaret" means mingling among the small tables and getting the patrons involved.

Lots of laughs.

She was working the crowd on the other side of the room, getting cozy with an older gentleman, his wife and their daughter.

The seemingly good natured comments quickly became X-rated.

I could live with that...for them, way, way over there.

Most everyone in the theater sighed with relief that they were not the object of Bridget's hands-on actions.

Her lovey-dovey pats and triple entendres had me squirming  because she seemed to be working right on the aisle.

Sure, you're ahead of me here.

My side of the theater was next and she stopped, tousled my white hair and said "Your name is Gary, right?"

Then began a dialogue - I tried one-word answers -  but was distracted by my buddy sitting next to me.

He whipped out his phone cam to capture the moment. 

By then Bridget had stripped off her loose draping dress and pressed my head into her ample bosom.

Actually, I was lucky. 

She had named a few other fellows up and down the aisles and invited "Tim" to join her onstage. 

Much younger, he seemed more relaxed than I and certainly was stronger, as was quickly proved!

She sat in his lap then had him lift her up in his arms.

I groaned, glad it was NOT "Gary" up there.

Well, you have to have a big finale, especially for a comedy & cabaret act. Something unexpected.

"Tim" was told to lie down and extend both feet up in the air.


Bridget slowly leaned toward him, got settled, and surged forward to complete the balancing act over him. My legs would not have worked like his and I would've been very close face-to-face with a big partner.. my new BFF.

As the crowd moved out of the Sottile, I got waves and cheers from giggling college girls.

"Way to go, Gary, you were great."

One white-haired guy slapped me on the back and said "Thanks, Gary, you took one for the team." 

Guess he was sweating it in an aisle seat.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Oh, I was asked if that was going to be my new profile photo on Facebook... what do you think?

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Glenn Frey, one of the original EAGLES, has died

 I am fortunate to have seen The Eagles in concert twice.

Found this nice breakout shot of co-founder Glenn Frey, taken during a February 24, 2014 concert in Atlanta.

Had seen them perform almost 10  years earlier here in Charleston at the Coliseum, on March 5, 2005.

Checking details, I found that Frey collaborated with Jackson Brown in writing their first big hit in 1972 - "Take It Easy."

Frey is in the center of this 2014 concert shot.

As it happens, I had just a few days ago seen Jackson Browne in concert at the Performing Arts Center and he played that hit he co-wrote with Frey.

Some sources credit Frey with contributing the classic line about being in Winslow, Arizona when "a girl, my Lord,  in a flatbed Ford, slows down to take a look at me."

Wonder if the Winslow Chamber of Commerce ever sent a thank you note to the band?

Talk of songs that give one a good vibe, I think some more praise is due for a thirsty well made "Tequila Sunrise?"

Lovers of a 'Rita cheer no doubt and raise a salt-on-the-rim glass in salute.

Speaking of older, classic performers, I saw the Rolling Stones twice last year, once in Atlanta and then again three weeks later, in Raleigh.

First time I saw B.B. King was in September 1997 at Brittlebank Park, where he headlined a free concert that also featured J. Giels, Tower of Power and Robert Cray.

He apologized when he sat down on a stool after about 15 minutes. We didn't mind as thousands of us sat on blankets next to the Ashley River on a balmy evening.

Did I mention it was a free show?

This mural of B.B. was one of several at the old Plex. Wonder if it was saved when the place was torn down?

Saw him many times over the years. Several times I was in the front row, leaning on the stage railing at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach.

He even handed me one of his guitar picks.

Another long-time blues star I've enjoyed live is Buddy Guy.

Yep, he handed me a pick too.

This trip down the musical memory road started with the Eagles.

I hope to see many more more notables.

ZZ  TOP qualifies. Saw them at the PAC (center seat in the front row).

Next week will see guitarist Billy Gibbons at the Charleston Music Hall (CMH).

I just noticed the zipper pull is a miniature handcuff. Haha.

Sit close and your camera captures such fine points.

(Click on the pictures and the links for more details.)

Did I also mention I really, really like live music.

Please support it!

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

ESPN and I do battle...

Like many, many others, I "cut the cord" 2-years ago and pay $20* a month now just for the internet connection. 

And Amazon is working on a way to offer that without going through a cable company. Someday soon, I hope.

 For viewing, I bought a $40 Leaf 30 HDTV antenna and get great reception of all the major broadcast
 network stations.

I sadly watched NASCAR  abandon its fans by going to NBC Sports Channel and FOX Sports.
They left the channels that do not require a cable package or an extra monthly subscription.

Pro football is still on network channels but college ball has sold out to ESPN. 

No cable package means no ESPN. 

Oh, you could pay X number of dollars and get ESPN 1, 2 and 3 a la carte. 

There's even a site called Cord Cutter that shows what it costs per month to pick-and-choose just the channels you want.

So I watched the College Championship game between  Clemson vs Alabama, with the live feed of the overhead MEGACAST Spidercam, available for free on the internet.

Could see it only on my computer monitor but, I have a 27" screen, so more than adequate.

Great views as it floats overhead, zooming in and panning around each time the ball changes hands. Best of all there are NO commentators telling us the obvious.

Well, there also is no SloMo or replays. And a long pass usually  has the receiver far, far away but I was able to watch the game.

At the halftime, as each side took turns having its marching band on the field, I saw a technician signal the camera-in-the-sky to be lowered down  on the sideline as he changed something on the unit. Maybe batteries?

Not the best way to watch the game but ESPN has not banned the Spidercam....yet.

*When I cancelled cable on Comcast, they wanted $56 a month for me to just be online. Their competitor offered new customers that for $29.99 a month for 12 months. Just before that ended, I called Comcast - as a new customer - and got a year for $19.99 a month.

As that year ends, I'll check its competitor again.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for tuning in to see alternatives to ESPN.

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Saturday, January 02, 2016

"Leggo my logo."

Each year, on New Year's Eve, the newspaper I retired from has a "Drop In For Retirees."

Gives old timers a chance to see friends and take a walk through the building to see what's changed.

I like to do that each year between 1-3 pm because they set out a buffet so I get another "freebie" from the paper.

This year I was surprised to see a very large replica of our 8-lane Ravenel Bridge in the conference room.

Made entirely from Legos.

Even the cables.

And a variety of tiny Lego vehicles, including a yellow school bus, an 18-wheeler and small cars.

Columnist Brian Hicks quipped the only thing missing was a sideways SUV, swerved against a bridge railing, blocking traffic.

Of course, it would be difficult to read the three signs the distraught driver had painted on his vehicle, warning police to stay back.

Paul Sharry, the retiring head of the paper's corporate HR, was there with his wife on his last day of 39-years with the paper.

He said he was looking forward to NOT having to set the alarm clock.

An article on display stated that Paul had started out in 1976 in the Circulation department.

I reminded him that he should plan to come to the quarterly luncheons of our Retirees Group, called the 134 Gang*. He appreciated that it was meeting at a sensible 11:30.

Paul said "Sure, why not, I'll probably have nothing else to do that day." 

*(134 is the long-time address of the paper on Columbus Street and, earlier, also at its plant on Meeting Street).

I filled a plate, picked up a bottled water, and wandered over for closer looks at the Lego-built bridge.

It was pretty detailed, including the 8-lanes that replaced the former 2-lane and 3-lane bridges dating back to 1929 and 1966.

Growing up in Charleston, I drove many times back and forth to the Isle of Palms and Mt. Pleasant on the John P. Grace that opened in 1929.

This was with one lane going in each direction. Yikes.

The Grace was still being used when I came back to Charleston and did my first Bridge Run in 1994.

That turned out to be the last use of that bridge for the annual run and the next year, the event was moved over to the 3-lane Silas N. Pearman Bridge that had opened in 1966.

I walked the Run for the next 11 or 12 years and did my last one in 2005 over the new Ravenel.

I joked that I had done all three and didn't have to do another Run/Walk until a newer bridge was built.

No, I don't consider the Lego one a "new" bridge.

I did get a bonus years later when a friend asked me if I wanted a piece of the Grace Bridge. Duh, I said, yes I would like to have that.

 It became part of my 13 Bridge Run bib numbers display. Let me stress, I WALKED each of those years.

Earlier I have blogged about my grandmother who ran a boarding house downtown.

Several of her guests included workers on the bridge in 1927 and a Supervisor.

One chilly Sunday morning, the Supervisor took her out to the Charleston side of the bridge under construction.

Thankfully, they took the time to pose a few photos.

We have several views of her in her cloche hat, prim purse and shiny patent leather shoes.

You rock, Granny!

(Click on the photos and links for more details).

Thanks for stopping by for a retiree's view of The Bridges of Charleston County.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Flowerful Holidays...

 Of course there is an explanation for this flower-bedecked lead guitarist of the New Orleans street band Yes Ma'am.

The other 5 band members did not make it to the gig Saturday night at Tin Roof.

He gallantly sat in with the opener and gave us quite a show.

Two fans stepped forward with - I guess - a thank you bouquet of flowers.

There were no vases so the long stems were stuffed into his t-shirt and his guitar.

I had seen this band before and looked forward again to hearing a bit of rompin' & stompin' NOLA Royal Street music the day after Christmas.

Hey, as they say, the show went on and dancers danced and ribald stories were shared.

The spirit of the Xmas holiday season and the birth of Jesus, was kneeling to the right of the stage.

This, of course, was the non-retiring other "Joe" in Charleston as the end of the year looms.

The jaunty Santa hat was another nice holiday seasonal touch.

It's no secret that I enjoy live music here and overseas.

It's also well-known that I usually have my trusty Canon SX280hs in my hand on musical evenings.

A nice "shout out" to the Tin Roof for the improved lighting onstage.

Speaking of being out of the country, a buddy of mine has served in Germany and Western Europe for many years as a civilian contractor.

Now he's wearing government credentials in Kabul, near the NATO headquarters, in Afghanistan.

He was able to pose on Christmas day with a svelte  Santa, a wheelbarrow filled with candy, a helpful "tree" and a flirty elf.

They continued on their rounds after the picture was snapped.

Set my camera on black & white to capture Steve Cheesborough and his vintage metal Dobro guitar.

He was at How Art Thou by the Terrace Theater on Maybank Highway Tuesday night.

Steve travels from his home in Portland, Oregon each year around Christmas and this was his final night before heading home.

I've seen him perform several years ago at Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ in West Ashley and know he specializes in music from the 20s and 30s leading up to WWII.

Last week I had just missed his set at the Tradesman Brewing Company close by off Folly Road.

Glad to catch his last night in town as he played with Shrimp City Slim on keys and Juke Joint Johnny on harp.

I learned there is a good chance Shrimp will be adding a second night of Blues (Friday?) at the cozy music, beer , tapas and coffee spot.

(Click on the photos and links for more details and information.)

Thanks for stopping by.

Happy New Year's Eve Eve.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

"Nailed it....."

While in Massachusetts, I had probably the freshest lobster ever in my life.

Actually, right at the very tip of Cape Cod in P-Town. (Provincetown.)

Got a lobster roll for an early lunch when I stepped off the ferryboat from Boston.

Had another meal-on-a-roll just before re-boarding the ferry that evening.

Pricey, even there in the Lobster hotbed. Well, Maine may raise an eyebrow at that claim. I'll let the New England states defend their claims.

Avoided a long trip up north the other night when I ordered a Lobster roll from Chris York in West Ashley.

He's the owner of The Immortal Lobster food truck that was parked just outside the Tradesman Brewery on a recent rather brisk Saturday night.

The choices were the "traditional" Maine version which is buttered lobster on a toasted roll. Connecticut-style includes mayonnaise. Or, maybe it's the other way around.

First time inside at the Tradesman Brewing Company, just off Folly Road, near Maybank Hwy. at 1639 Tatum Street.

The name comes from the array of hammers, wrenches, capped pipes and thick wrapped cables that are used as draft pulls in the two bars.

I grew up with a Dad who was a carpenter so there were many tools very familiar to me.

Foolishly, I tried to lift a 3-foot long Monkey Wrench sitting in a corner. Heavy ornament.

There are two tasting rooms (bars), one upstairs and the other on the first floor. I did not find the "brewing area" with its large vats on this visit.

The over-size wrench was in a corner downstairs. It still is.

Didn't get the name of the bartender pouring beers, standing behind an authentic wooden toolbox.

My Dad had several toolboxes in his workshop that looked like this one.

He also had a much larger one that he hefted onto his shoulder when he worked out on the piers at the former Charleston Navy Yard during the war.

 My Dad's tool box included two sharp hand saws and several wood planes.

Also assorted chisels, ball peen and claw hammers and wrenches.

But I was here to taste some brews and I started with a flight (four 4-ounce samples) upstairs and then down stairs, to choose four samples from a longer list.

The one being discussed a lot that night was a beer called Chicken & Waffles.

Yes, a beer flavored with chicken bouillon and a hint of maple syrup. I was leery and had just a 4-ounce sample. Others ordered a full pint. Hmmm.

There were other beers I really liked. 

Check out the updated list of "Well Built Beers" on the link to Tradesman.

Many are named after tools but I also tried a 4- oz taste of Orange You Glad and some other whimsical titles.

The upstairs bar is very basic. 

A thin - but sturdy- solid steel sheet curves around the bar area.

My Dad, the carpenter, would have noted there is not any "nosing" on the edge.

That's the raised portion that keeps your cuffs away from spilled beer.

(Click on the images and links for more details.) 

Another night on the job at the Tradesman.

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Wow. A Real Blast From The Past!

 Many, many years ago I was named Director of Tourism for the state of Missouri.

Had to move my family from the Kansas City area to a sweet house I bought in the capitol - Jefferson City.

One year, when my daughter was 8 or 9, I decided to build her a DOLLHOUSE.

Not just ANY one, a cute replica of our 2-story home.

It was just a mile or two from my office downtown and had some great lines to it.

 I figured it couldn't be too hard to build...just copy the one standing there.

In fact, even easier, I didn't have to build all of it.

A dollhouse is open at the back. No 4th wall.

Well, it WAS a 2-story so I had to do the second floor inside too.

My daughter was really into each step-by-step as it started taking shape.

I had not told her it was going to look just like our real house but she quickly caught on as it progressed.
 I liked the way certain parts turned out.

For some reason, in her toy box, she had a miniature couple that looked just about right in the pictures I took.

I learned a lot about dollhouses.

In fact, they were the number one "toy" is some fact sheets I found. and go back hundreds of years...or more!

 As work went on, I added pieces of the same wallpaer we had in each room.

I made a replica fireplace and built the stairs leading up to the second floor.

I used blocks of wood to recreate the refrigerator, sink and I even copied the blue couch in the living room.

Many times, our cat was also in the living room.

Depending on how he stretched out, he also extended himself into the kitchen and dining room.

 The project started in the winter, with snow on the ground, and was completed in the Spring.

Several people asked me for details on how I did this so I had a pamphlet made up.

It was offered to people interested in making one similar to their home.

Nine years ago, when I started my blog, I included a mention of it and today I received an email asking if the folder was still available. Well heck yeah!

My 9-year old daughter has grown up, and  is married now with a 4-year old boy of her own. The "House that Chuck built" vanished years ago BUT I searched around and found the brochure file.

If anyone else wants a special fun project, I can send details to you for only $10.

It explains how to do it from the first measurements of your REAL house to the final exterior matching paint that completes the special "toy" for your child.

Just let me know.

Thanks for stopping by in this, my old neighborhood,  in the middle of Missouri.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

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